September 8, 2006

OT: The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be [7:43 am]

Talk about unrealistic expectations. Since when did individual happiness depend upon technological advance? This consumerist look at science and its products is way off the mark, but shows just how badly technological progress is understood. Whither Tomorrowland? - pdf

The future has arrived and, incredibly, we have prototype robots and space vacations, but something very important has been left in the past: a dream of happiness. I’m talking about the undiluted joy of bounding hand in hand across the moon’s surface with a picnic lunch, or having a deep philosophical conversation with a dolphin — real honest-to-God, life-in-the-future, faster-than-light happiness.

We’ve got the gadgets but not the utopia. Maybe utter happiness is just too much to ask of technology, or maybe techno-bliss is just over the horizon. Either way, it seems we have lost that overwhelming, calming and possibly fatally optimistic belief that scientists will one day invent the technology to make us all healthy, problem free and, most of all, really, really happy.

They will, of course. Someday.

[...] The time has come to hold the golden age of science fiction accountable for its fantastic promises. So grab your favorite scientist by the lapels and shake hard. Demand a personal jetpack, a servant robot, an automatic cow-milker or whatever dream of the future makes you happy. The magnificent destiny of humankind depends on it.

And don’t get me started on where I think American optimism went. My fingers would find plenty of targets to point at before I get to any technologies….

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